Concern over talent drain from Levant countries


Media professionals in the Gulf can acquire knowledge and skills from their counterparts who have migrated from the Levant countries, which have witnessed a huge talent drain, said experts speaking at the seventh edition of the two-day Arab Media Forum (AMF).

The observation was made by experts participating in a workshop titled “Levant media and the talent drain”, which was moderated by Najwa Al Qassim, anchor, Al Arabiya News Channel.

The session addressed how the advent of satellite TV and the refinement of digital technology are opening up phenomenal employment avenues across the region, drawing the Levant media away from their home countries to seek more lucrative career opportunities elsewhere in the region.

Participants in the workshop included Hafez Al Barghouti, Editor-in-Chief, Al Hayat Al Jadida newspaper, Palestine; Issam Dari, Editor-in-Chief, Tishreen newspaper, Syria; Jamil Mroue, Editor-in-Chief, Daily Star, Lebanon; and, Khayri Mansour, writer, Jordan, who came together to discuss the reasons for the talent drain to the “richer” GCC media.

Issam Dari said: “The migration of talent from the Levant to Europe, North America and now the Gulf is simply the result of better opportunities, attractive living and stable market conditions. The political instability and the wars are making it difficult for the Levant region to retain good talent.” Throwing light on the reasons that make the Gulf an attractive destination for media professionals, Khayri Mansour said: “The Gulf provides them with a spectrum of opportunities and technology not available in their home countries.  Freedom is also a quotient that is provided by the Gulf; there is no fear of reprisal that may be the case back home.”

Discussing ways of reversing the talent drain, speakers and participants also provided their assessment of the overall impact on the region.

Jamil Mroue said: “Journalism as a curriculum is generally a new phenomenon in the region, although it has been prevalent in Jordan and Palestine. It is unfortunate that while at one time people used to look towards Lebanon for its professional expertise and high literacy levels, the political instability has altered this trend, a reason why it has become difficult to hold on to talent.”

He said:  “If we are to make our home countries conducive for professionals to stay behind, we have no other recourse but to change things for the better. This is an urgent call that needs to be addressed.”